Breakthrough may Lead to Replacement of Antipsychotic Pills with Nasal Spray

The adverse side effects caused by oral and injectable antipsychotics may be the nail in the coffin in wake of scientific leap

Eric Taipale
2 min readNov 22, 2021
Antipsychotics may be the future for people afflicted with psychotic disorders / Courtesy of: PsychiatryAdvisory

A group of medical researchers and engineers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario have announced their groundbreaking findings that may forever alter how psychiatrists and pharmacists prescribe and administer antipsychotic medication in the form of nasal spray. The institution has celebrated these discoveries, affirming that this new, effective strategy will be fundamental in facilitating a higher quality of life for those diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions.

In a research article posted in the Journal of Controlled Release, the study concluded that delivering medication in this manner can alleviate behavioral abnormalities at a dose 75% lower than its oral or injectable counterparts. The co-authors of the article, Ali Babar, Andrew Lofts, Michael Majcher, and Fahed Abuhijleh proved the functionality of their method in trials involving PAOPA, a pharmaceutical used in the treatment of schizophrenia, using rats.

Ram Mishra, a professor in the University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences has cited many of the instabilities and side effects associated with oral medication which can involve weight gain, diabetes, and damage to organs during long-term use.

Mishra stated, “This way we can bypass the blood-brain barrier. By delivering the drug directly to the target, we can avoid adverse side effects below the brain.” Administering medication through the nose will remove the arduous, outdated approach of first ingesting the medication, traveling through the bloodstream before reaching the brain. Mishra affirms that the application of this technique bypasses the current processes, instead, administering the medication through the nostril, then to the brain via the olfactory nerve.

This is the first and shortest cranial nerve and acts as a fundamental attribute in processing smell, it also acts as the quickest pathway from the other nose to the brain, hence why it was used in these trials.

In the development of this solution, the research team elected to deploy the use of cornstarch nanoparticles, a natural polymer derived from crabs to develop fluid that would facilitate the deep embedding of medication in the nasal cavity where a gel-like substance can be formed — gradually released doses of the antipsychotic.

The strategy proved to be successful in its execution; as the solution managed to subvert behavioral patterns of schizophrenia for a duration of three days. The three-day duration to which a dosage of the nasal medication is effective rivals the current amount of dosages an individual afflicted with a psychotic disorder is required to ingest; which may be once or even multiple times per day.